Before and After: Ceremony Music

27 Feb

MusicIn last week’s blog post we dished all things reception music, and one couple’s first-hand experiences with choosing the songs for key party moments – like the bridal party entrance, cake cutting and bouquet toss. However, don’t let your focus on tunes for a kick-ass party distract from that other musical occasion of the day: the ceremony. It’s more than just deciding which song to walk to down the aisle! 🙂

For the beachside ceremony for the Reflective Groom and me, we hired a trio consisting of a cello, violin and flute (more on that decision another time!). Unlike having a DJ for our reception, this meant that we were restricted to their playlist for our choice of songs – unless we wanted to pay extra for them to custom-make an arrangement for us. Interestingly, our trio had a minimum hire time of two hours, even though our ceremony would only be 30 minutes. That means they ended up playing a much longer set – and therefore music for more key moments! – than we originally had envisioned.

So here is what we chose, and how it turned out!

Waiting music
We asked our guests to arrive by 2:45pm, so that our ceremony could start promptly at 3:00pm. Since we had the two hours booked with our trio anyway, we asked them to start playing from 2:30pm, so there would be entertainment and ambiance from the moment the first guests arrived! We decided to go for classical music for the waiting time, but our criteria were that the songs had to be light (no marches) and familiar to our guests. (People always enjoy hearing a song they know!) The Reflective Groom and I spent a loooong (but educational) day listening to all the classical music in the trio’s playlist and immediately skipped over any piece we didn’t recognize. In the end we settled on:

  • Clark – Trumpet Voluntary
  • Vivaldi – Spring
  • Boccherini – Minuet
  • Silvestri – Forrest Gump Theme
  • Løvland – Serenade to Spring

waiting-for-the-bride-puerto-morelos-mexico+1152_12796353259-tpfil02aw-24971We liked that “Trumpet Voluntary” sounds very regal and dignified, suiting our formal theme, and thought it would be great as our first song. The two “Spring” songs fit wonder- fully with our desire for light pieces. One song sticks out a little: the theme to the film “Forrest Gump”. (You know, the song with the feather fluttering about? Yeah, you know.) When we saw this song in their list, we just knew we had to include it, as “Forrest Gump” is “our” favorite film. Being absent for the waiting time, I of course did not get to hear how it turned out with these songs (after all my hard work helping to pick them!), but the Reflective Groom said they worked beautifully!

Walking down the aisle
This was a very easy choice. Only two songs had ever resonated with me for a walk down the aisle: “Pachelbel’s Canon” and Elvis Presley’s “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You”. The latter was not on our trio’s playlist: case closed! I worried that “Pachelbel’s Canon” was too cliché… but in my husband’s country no one walks down the aisle to it (they’re a “here comes the bride” kind of people), so it would anyway be something different for a third of our wedding guests! Also, I adore “Pachelbel’s Canon” and have always thought it such romantic piece… and that is what should decide whether or not I walk down the aisle to it, not a concern about whether others might think it’s cheesy. And I did adore walking down that aisle to Pachelbel! It made me feel like, “Whoa! Wow, now I’m getting married!”

My walk down the aisle!

My walk down the aisle!

Another interesting idea came up on this topic before we’d selected our musicians, when my groom asked, “Hey, how come you get to have a big, grand entrance to a big, grand song and I don’t?” At first I laughed, but then I saw that he was (half) serious. And as we discussed it, we thought, yeah, why don’t the guys get to have a big entrance? We fleshed it out a little more, and suggested that our officiant could, five minutes before the ceremony, explain our little observation about grooms being left out of the aisle hijinks, and then he could do his own grand entrance. He even chose the song: the theme to “Superman”. We chatted excitedly about how it would start our wedding day off on a really fun note, and add a personal touch. But then, we hired our musicians, and the “Superman” theme was not on their list… and the idea was dropped. A shame, really!

During the ceremony
The Reflective Groom and I had been to a wedding where the ceremony program included a soloist singing “The Rose”. We thought it was absolutely beautiful, so decided we’d like a musical interlude of our own! This was also a plus since we wanted to pad out the ceremony, to make it a good solid half-hour. We chose “You Raise Me Up”, as we thought the lyrics described well our relationship and how we do our best to support each other. Our officiant suggested that in the absence of a soloist, we should print the lyrics in our ceremony program, so our guests could better understand our song choice. We included the song in our ceremony just before the asking and vows.

One concern we had was what would happen during that 3.5-minute song. What would we do? What would our guests do? It’s natural to look at a vocalist standing up and performing, but would everyone gaze intently at a sitting trio? Should we pass our rings around so all our guests could “bless” them during the piece? Should we hand out… something?! In the end we decided the guests would just entertain themselves, and the Reflective Groom and I would hold hands and stare into each other’s eyes. And let me tell you, 3.5 minutes holding hands and staring into your partner’s eyes is a long time! It felt a little awkward by the end of it, standing in front of all our friends and family (especially when the flautist was completely off-key and we were desperately trying to stop ourselves cringing and/or giggling). So, if you are also considering a musical interlude, where it’s not a church hymn that you would read and sing along with, I would suggest choosing a shorter piece!

young_couple_signing_wedding_documents_focus_on_hand_Another moment of music we had to consider for the ceremony was during the signing of the wedding certificates. Our officiant estimated that we would need about five minutes for this. Now that the formalities were wrapping up, we wanted to transition the music to a more modern and playful tone: so we chose “At Last” and “It Had To Be You”. When the first song started up, you could hear people in the audience give a contented little “Awwwwwww.”

After the ceremony
Once we finished with our certificates and were officially presented as “husband and wife” (yay!), we walked up the aisle to Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March”. This is the tradition in my groom’s country, and the least I could do after not going with “here comes the bride”! I think it suited wonderfully, as it’s a very uplifting and dramatic piece!

Our trio continued playing as our guests filed past us in a receiving line and we posed nearby for all the group pictures. At this point in the proceedings we decided to simply go for fun and more personal songs. We picked (in order) “Love Is In The Air”, “All You Need Is Love” (we were adamant this not be the first song, in case people thought we were copying “Love, Actually”), “Chapel of Love” (as mentioned last week, I do love my 60s tunes!), “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You”, “Come On, Eileen” (a song my groom and I just love!), and “Always Look On the Bright Side of Life” (we’re big “Monty Python” fans, and pride ourselves on being silly, so this seemed the perfect song to end our ceremony!).

To be honest, I cannot tell you how it turned out with these final songs, because the spot for our receiving line was far enough from the musicians that I couldn’t even here them! (Or, possibly, I could hear the music but was so wrapped up in greeting our guests and batting my eyelashes for the camera that I didn’t notice it at all.) I hope at least the people who were at the back of the receiving line, and closest to the musicians, enjoyed the last little musical ditties that we’d ordered for them!

How have you decided which music to incorporate in your ceremony? What song will you walk down the aisle to?

(Second image from TripAdvisor., fourth image from

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3 Responses to “Before and After: Ceremony Music”

  1. celastrina February 27, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    Great post! We’re having “Can’t take my eyes off of you” as my entrance song – hopefully we can time it so that I come in after the bridesmaids with that big sax solo! Both our families are musical so I’ve asked our dads to come up with a song together to play during the signing of the register – something bluesy I’m hoping – too many slow songs and I’ll cry! We haven’t picked a leaving the church tune yet, but the rest of the before and after music for the ceremony will probably be Frank Sinatra, he’s our favourite 🙂

    • reflectivebride February 28, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

      “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” would definitely be a fun, jazzy start to the day! Love the idea of your dads playing something together during the signing, that’s a wonderful personal touch. (We did Frank Sinatra for our first dance, so I totally understand what you mean! :D)

  2. Nit May 6, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    Everyone would benefit from renadig this post

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